Albert Vincent Reade, 1864 - 1940
St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Heaton Norris, Stockport

signed "Vincent Reade " and inscribed on the reverse " St Mary's Roman Catholic Church / , Heaton Norris / , Stockport /A Vincent Reade / Oct 1930 "

pencil and watercolour
23 x 30.5 cm. (9 x 12 in. )


Heaton Norris is a suburb in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, Greater Manchester, England. It is part of the Four Heatons, and neighbours Heaton Chapel, Heaton Mersey and Heaton Moor. Formerly a parish of Lancashire, in 1835 part of Heaton Norris was annexed to Stockport in Cheshire; Heaton Chapel and Heaton Moor remained in Lancashire, but further territory was ceded in 1894 and the remnant in 1913. Historically part of Lancashire, Heaton Norris was part of the Manchester barony of the Grelley family, but between 1162 and 1180 it belonged to William le Norreys.

In the early 13th century, Heaton Norris, a sub manor of Manchester, encompassed all of the Four Heatons. It was escheated (i.e. reverted) to the manor of Manchester around 1280. In 1322, there were 32 dwellings suggesting a population of 150, the ten freeholders of the escheated manor had the right to graze on common pasture and to cut wood. There was no chapel of ease, unlike neighbouring St Ostwalds at Didsbury, and didn't get one until St Thomas' was built in 1758.

The township remained part of the parish of Manchester in the Salford Hundred of Lancashire until 1835 when the southern portion of the parish was absorbed into Stockport.[1] In 1894, under the Local Government Act 1894, it was divided again, with a portion becoming part of Stockport county borough in Cheshire, and the remaining part forming the Heaton Norris urban district in Lancashire. A further 16 acres (65,000 m2) transferred in 1901, and the remainder, Heaton Moor and Heaton Chapel, was added to Stockport county borough in 1913. There was a plebiscite in the 1930 on whether the area wished to become part of Manchester again, but the vote was lost. In 1901, the population was recorded as 26,251. Since 1974 it has formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in Greater Manchester.

Weaving was first recorded in 1580 and by 1776 farms were being advertised as having cowsheds and large loom houses. In spite of the industrial developments nearby in Stockport and Manchester, most of Heaton Norris remained agricultural, though in 1836 there were 20 mills employing upwards of 5,000. The rural nature changed with the arrival of the railway station at Heaton Norris in 1840 and Heaton Chapel in 1852, when the area became largely residential in order to house workers in local mills. The majority of Heaton Norris is characterised by deck-access or high-rise estates (such as Lancashire Hill) and Victorian terraced housing.

Heaton Norris, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Moor and Heaton Chapel are on the north bank of the River Mersey, and south of the Cringle Brook, to the west of Reddish and the River Tame. The land slopes gently towards the north from a high point in the south above a steep descent to the Mersey. Most of the townships are between 60 m and 70 m above sea level, and 30 m to 60 m above the river. Heaton Norris is about 7 km south of St Ann's Square, Manchester. The soil is clay on marl and red sandstone.

The former Manchester to Buxton Roman road and the later turnpike, now the A6, pass through Heaton Norris, as does the London to Manchester railway. This is carried from Edgeley to Heaton Norris by the massive brick-built Stockport Viaduct.

Along the north bank of the River Mersey ran the Great Central Railway's line from Warrington to Stockport (1852). Today this route is used by the M60 motorway; Junction 1 (formerly Junction 12 of the M63) serves Heaton Norris.

The Stockport branch of the Ashton Canal terminated at Heaton Norris. In 1820, William Nelstrop established his flour mill on Lancashire Hill. Nelstrop's Albion Flour Mills were rebuilt on the same site in 1893 following a fire. The company is now one of Britain's largest independent flour millers.

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church on Dodge Hill was designed by Pugin & Pugin,1897 and is a prominent local landmark. It is constructed of red brick with stone dressings and window tracery and a slate roof. The west front has a tall gabled bell cote on a stepped base beneath which is a statue of the Virgin and Child. Stepped buttresses framing a large rose window are flanked by traceried windows with paired lights. It was founded in 1867, and the current church building opened in 1897.

St Mary’s was designed by Pugin & Pugin and exhibits an obvious debt to the architecture of E. W. Pugin. The church dates from the close of the nineteenth century and the exterior retains architectural coherence, despite some alteration. Inside there have been changes and reordering, however a rich effect still obtains and the church has a good collection of stained glass. The church is a key historic building and landmark in the conservation area.

Heaton Norris is one of a group of townships on the north side of the Mersey originally in Manchester which became administratively incorporated into Stockport in 1913. A Catholic school was established in 1868, and a house of Regency or early Victorian character alongside was acquired to serve as a presbytery.

The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Bilsborrow on 27 March 1897, and the building was opened on 21 November in the same year by Cardinal Vaughan, Archbishop of Westminster and former Bishop of Salford. The architects were Pugin & Pugin of London.

The church was embellished over time. In 1899 Cardinal Vaughan presented a painting of St Peter offering the keys to Our Lady, with the inscription England is My Dowry. Stained glass in the chancel and two side altars were also introduced in 1899. In 1931 a set of nave windows was unveiled, the gift of Archbishop Curley of Baltimore and Washington, who had family connections with the parish priest. Archive photographs show that the interior also had a rich stencilled and painted scheme, now mostly overpainted. The Rev. Dr Turner arrived in 1940 and subsequently oversaw various works including a new high altar, reredos, sanctuary floor, altar rails and sanctuary roof lights, completed in 1952 (when the church was consecrated). In 1957 the sacristy was found to be in poor condition and replaced. The church was extended at the west end in 1962-3, when a narthex incorporating a new baptistery was installed. This involved removing the lower part of the west wall, losing a niche with a statue and other architectural detail. A doorway on the north side was blocked and turned into a window. The hardwood partition below the west gallery is probably of this date. The architects for this addition have not been established, but the angular modern Gothic treatment suggests Reynolds & Scott. More recently (early twenty first century) a new altar and ambo have been formed by Alberti, Lupton & Co. Ltd, using marble from the former high altar.

All orientations given are liturgical. The church is of Accrington brick laid in English garden wall bond with stone dressings and consists of a canted apsidal chancel and sanctuary and single-span nave. Windows have tracery of Decorated character. The tall canted apse and west front exhibit similarities architecturally with the work of E.W. Pugin. A stone bellcote in the west gable has a statue of the Virgin and Child beneath, a later addition. A large wheel window is framed by stepped brick buttresses, with a triple-gabled west porch of 1960s date below. A simple brick sacristy of twentieth century date is attached on the southeast side. A metal ramp leads up to the west porch where there is a former baptistery at the south end, and a glazed screen with doors leading to a secondary space beneath the west gallery, also fitted with a screen and doors.

The interior, despite alteration, is striking and richly decorated. The west gallery has a cusped balustrade and the nave is spanned by arch-braced roof trusses, each principal rising from a stone bracket which forms the canopy for a niche with statuary. A broad pointed chancel arch is flanked by lesser, very shallow arches enclosing windows and marking the position of altars to Our Lady and Sacred Heart. The mid-twentieth century sanctuary furnishings are of alabaster and marble and include altar rails. Side altars have reredoses which also appear to be of mid-twentieth century date, replacing the more ornate arrangements shown in archive photographs. There is an almost complete scheme of stained glass, generally of high quality, including a set of richly coloured nave windows by an unknown artist installed in 1931, executed to traditional designs.


February 10th, 1868, school opened under the charge of Mary Rossiter. Reverend Fr. Tracey visited the school as manager, accompanied by Rev. M. Keating from Ramsbottom. Fr. Francis X. Reichart was appointed Rector. Inducted by the Very Rev. Canon Toole, D.D., on November 18th, 1883. February 4th, 1896: Meeting of the parishioners, with the Bishop in the chair, to consider the building of a new church. A week's wages promised. March 27th, 1897: Laying of the foundation stone of the new church by the Bishop of Salford.
November 21st, 1897: Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady. Opening of the new church by His Eminence Herbert, Cardinal Vaughan.
April 25th, 1899: Two new side-altars were put in the church- one a memorial to the late Mrs. Brelsford, and the other a memorial altar from the people in memory of the deceased Rectors of St. Mary's.

August 27th, 1899: H.E. Cardinal Vaughan and his two nephews arrived here and stayed four days, taking part in the C.T.S. Conference. Sunday, August 28th, 1899: Cardinal present at High Mass -sermon by the Rev. Bernard Vaughan, S. J. Dr. Tynan preached in the evening, and H.E. Cardinal Vaughan gave Pontifical Benediction. The Mayor and Mayoress were present in the morning and dined with the Cardinal. The Bishops of Shrewsbury, Nottingham, Clifton and Southwark also met His Eminence at dinner.

October 8th, 1899: Re-opening of the church by the Bishop of Salford, who presided at the High Mass from the Throne, and preached a touching sermon on devotion to Our Lady. The Rev. Dr. Casartelli, St. Bede's College, Manchester, occupied the pulpit in the evening.

November 1st, 1899: The Cardinal's promised gift for the church arrived, a large and beautiful oil-painting representing St. Peter offering the keys to Our Lady, with the inscription: England is My Dowry.

March 5th, 1900: Alderman Joseph Worrall, who had presented the HigH Altar to the church, died. December 15th, 1901: Magnificent new Monstrance, the gift of the Misses Costello, used for the first time.

December 10th, 1911: Opening of the new chapel-of-ease, Heaton Mersey.

August 1914: Fr. Reichart on holiday in Austria. War was declared on August 4th. Fr. Reichart, therefore, could not return. The mission was put into the hands of administrators-Dean Hennessey land then Fr. C. Radcliffe.

August 7th, 1915: After receiving Fr. Reichart's resignation- the Rev. T. Henshaw, Rector of Holy Saviour's, Nelson, was appointed Rector of St. Mary's, Heaton Norris.

October, 1917: The Rev. Thomas Henshaw appointed to St. Gabriel's, Castleton. He had previously made representations to the Bishop that many things had to be neglected on account of work entailed by his office as Assistant Chancellor. (End of Log Books).

Fr. William J. Hughes was appointed in 1917. He installed stained-glass windows, the gift of a relative, Archbishop of Baltimore. In the last years of his office he was very interested in the development of the Heaton Mersey daughter mission.

The Rev. James Turner, D.D., was appointed to Heaton Norris in 1940 while Fr. Hughes still resided at Heaton Mersey. Dr. Turner was inducted in October 1940, after Fr. Hughes had resigned his charge and retired. The present Rector has done much to embellish the sanctuary and has laid down a floor of English oak with a border of Burmese teak. He has also cleared the parish of debt. New altar rails of English alabaster have been installed, roof lights opened on the Sanctuary, which had been darkened by the stained-glass windows.

Taken from "Salford Diocese and its Catholic past", a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.

Artist biography

Albert Vincent Reade was born in 1864, he was a portrait, landscape and still life painter. He studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts and Colarossi's Paris, He exhibited  between 1901 and 1933 and lived in Manchester.